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Giving it up  

It’s still Thursday in London, but it’s a sunny Friday morning on the Coral Sea. My conference starts later today, so I’m taking the free time to do some totally unrelated reading.

Noel Perrin’s Giving Up the Gun is a fascinating short essay on a historical oddity that I hadn’t previously encountered: Japan’s decision to give up the technology of firearms and revert to the sword. Guns only arrived in Japan in 1543, courtesy of some Portuguese traders, but the highly developed martial culture of the country soon adopted and mastered both the use and manufacture of firearms.

But battles in the mid-seventeenth century were to be the last time the Japanese used guns for fighting for nearly two hundred years. Who says unilateral disarmament is a fantasy?

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